If you were to ask Derek Jeter on any given day if he thought about the records he has the chance to break, or the top lists that his name has been added to, the Yankee captain is likely to shake his head and say, "No, I don't really think about it too much." And if you know anything about Jeter you know that he's not lying.
Now that isn't to say that holding a record in baseball or passing someone like Babe Ruth on a Yankees' All-Time list doesn't matter to him at all. Let's be serious; what athlete wouldn't want to be on the same list as an elite player like the Babe?
Jeter acknowledges that those accomplishments are great and they are ones he will reflect on when his playing days are over, but for right now the only thing he thinks about is winning a World Series.
The Yankees haven't had a whole lot to cheer about this season. The club is fighting to make their 15th straight appearance in the playoffs due to injuries and under performance from many of their star players.
Even Jeter, who has been the epitome of consistency for the past twelve seasons, is having a down year at the plate. Only in the past month or so has he raised his batting average past the .300 mark.
Despite not having his best season, the captain has still managed to be a bright spot in a rather dark season. Jeter passed Babe Ruth on the Yankees' All-Time hits list on September 9th with 2,519 hits.
The next list Jeter had to tackle was the All-Time hits list at Yankee Stadium, a record held by the Iron Horse, Lou Gehrig. At the start of the Yankees' home stand this weekend there were ten games left at the stadium, more than enough time for Derek to get the ten hits he needed to pass Gehrig.
In the first two games, he had a total of six hits, and after two at-bats this afternoon he was one hit shy of tying Gehrig. In true dramatic fashion, when Jeter came to the plate in the fifth inning he hit a solo home run for his third hit of the game and tied Gehrig on the All-Time hits list at Yankee Stadium. The captain accepted his curtain call from the gracious fans and then went back to business as usual.
I was actually on the George Washington Bridge going back to New Jersey when Mariano Rivera got the final out of the game and I waited to change the station until after Derek's interview.
Just as I thought, when asked about what it meant to him to tie Lou Gehrig he said that it was special to be on the same list as players like Ruth and Gehrig, and while the fans reminded him every time he was in the on deck circle that he was so close to tying Gehrig, he still said his main goal is to come out every day and win games to get to the playoffs.
It is likely that within the next seven games at Yankee Stadium, Jeter will in fact pass Gehrig on that list. It is also likely that he will be the first Yankee player to record 3,000 hits. However, more than once I have heard Derek say that really the only record he is truly jealous of is Yogi Berra's ten World Series championships.
Jeter is six short of tying Yogi and seven away from passing him. You can bet that that is the list he keeps focused on and despite the tumultuous season the Yankees are having, every time Derek Jeter makes a stride toward history the only thing he thinks about is how that can help his team.
In the end, for Jeter it is always about the team because he knows without the team he can't top the list he admires the most.
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